Using a student information system that was not customizable was costing Ontario’s Trillium Lakelands District School Board both money and time, which are scarce commodities within the education system. Whenever the Board needed an enhancement made to meet its specific needs, it had to pay the software company and wait within its development schedule.
Erin Rowsell, Trillium Lakelands’ OnSIS/Student Data Supervisor, explains the difficult situation they were in. “When we were limited either by cost, or by timelines for new enhancements, we found that in many cases we were using ‘work arounds’ to solve different problems. In many cases these ‘work around’ solutions were not the most efficient way for our end users, or central support staff to be functioning on a daily basis, but they were the only solution we could offer to the problem.”
Trillium Lakelands District School Board is now using PowerSchool, the industry’s leading education technology solution that regularly delivers where other systems fall short. Particularly beneficial for Trillium Lakelands is that PowerSchool can be tailored to its specific needs with easy and powerful configurations that Board staff can do on its own – on its timeline with no additional resources or cost.
“PowerSchool has significantly improved the problem we were having with enhancement timelines,” says Rowsell. “Because we can customize the product ourselves, and have people within our staff with the knowledge to do that, changes to the program can be made with significantly shorter timeframes. This also means we can implement changes to the system that better follow our individual business needs whenever we need or want to.”
How else is PowerSchool helping power Trillium Lakelands’ operations? According to staff, it makes their jobs easier and more efficient because it’s simple to use, instantaneous, integrated, and features superior Ministry reporting functionality and support. Currently all of the Board’s secretarial staff use PowerSchool for day-to-day functions, including enrollments, entering demographic and medical information, student attendance, and withdrawals. Teachers use the Student Information System (SIS) for the PowerTeacher Gradebook, as well as entering attendance and marks for report cards. The system also integrates with Trillium Lakeland’s in-house systems, such as a special ed program.
PowerSchool features an open architecture design and can be easily tailored to the Board’s needs with customized configurations to extend SIS capabilities. In addition, solutions created by fellow PowerSchool users are shared and available to others on the PowerSource user site.
“We have certain board policies that say we have to have specific reports, and we’ve been able to write those right into PowerSchool ourselves. We’ve been able to incorporate some really district-specific things into the system, like medical alerts,” says Rowsell.
Trillium Lakelands has also been able to customize what the teachers can see to give them a robust demographic page for more access to important student information. “If we have something that’s district-specific that we want our teachers to be able to see, or a specific report that a principal or vice principal wants to use, it’s very easy to customize the product to make it available for them,” says Rowsell.
PowerSchool is a fully web-based SIS and works on any browser. Any changes made are in real time, making all data updates available instantaneously for all stakeholders.
“The fact that everything is live in real time because it’s web-based is fantastic,” says Rowsell. “We love the fact that everything is instantaneous. Everything is linked so that anything that happens across the board, anybody looking at that student will be able to see what happened in real time. If a student drops or adds a course, the teachers who have that student will see it immediately, and the secretaries in the office can also see that.”
PowerSchool’s Compliance Reporting Team helps ensure Ontario’s boards receive their maximum Ministry funding. The expert, dedicated team constantly monitors new requirements and customer requests unique to Ontario, meets regularly with the Ontario Advisory Board, and participates in user and focus groups.
“In Ontario, we really love the support that we get from PowerSchool’s Ministry Reporting Team. It’s a very collaborative approach so if we have a new Ministry regulation that’s come out, we very much work with the Provincial Reporting Team to come up with a solution that’s going to work with every board. Every board does things slightly differently as far as how they use the system but we all need to get to that same end reporting result,” says Rowsell.
PowerSchool is fully compliant with Ontario ministry reporting requirements with more than 50 supported reports and submissions, including easy-to-use OnSIS reporting meeting all OnSIS submissions. “OnSIS reporting really is easy with PowerSchool,” says Rowsell. “As long as the data that’s gone into the system is right on our end, it’s a simple matter of clicking a couple of buttons to run the report and send it up to the Ministry.”
PowerSchool has helped reliably power Trillium Lakelands District School Board operations with Ontario’s most comprehensive education technology solution. The Board can now easily create its own unique customizations within PowerSchool, and is enjoying instant student data updates and superior Ministry reporting.
“PowerSchool allows our end users benefits within the product to make their daily tasks easier and more efficient. We truly believe that the architecture behind the scenes is superior to that of any other option,” says Rowsell.
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